Tea Party Patriots Action Weekly Report from Washington for 1/27/20
The House will come back Monday and stay in session through Thursday. The Senate will return on Monday and stay in session through Saturday.
LAST WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House was in recess last week.
THIS WEEK ON THE HOUSE FLOOR:
The House will come back on Monday, with the first votes set for 6:30 PM. At that time, the House is scheduled to consider four bills under Suspension of the Rules.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the House is scheduled to consider four more bills under Suspension of the Rules.
In addition, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 3621, the Comprehensive CREDIT Act of 2020.
In addition, the House will consider war powers legislation again – Rep. Ro Khanna has a House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 550, the No War Against Iran Act, and Rep. Barbara Lee has a House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 550, to repeal the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.
LAST WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate came back to work on Tuesday and began the impeachment trial. Tuesday afternoon and evening and into Wednesday morning, Senators considered 11 amendments offered by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on behalf of the House managers. Ten of the 11 were tabled by a 53-47 vote, with all Republicans voting to table and all Democrats and the two Independents voting against tabling. On one of the amendments, the vote to table was 52-48 – Sen. Susan Collins of ME crossed over and voted with the Democrats on an amendment that would have extended the time the two sides were given to respond to written motions by the other side. Even though she voted with the Democrats against tabling the motion, it was tabled anyway.
Late in the evening on the first night of the trial, House manager and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler used language that was a bit too much for the austere Senate chamber. Sen. Collins wrote a note to Chief Justice John Roberts suggested that Nadler’s words had actually violated the rules of the Senate, and Roberts responded by admonishing both sides to remember where they were and act accordingly.
The general consensus of the GOP senators after the first day’s events seemed to be unhappiness with their Democrat counterparts for keeping everyone there until 2 o’clock in the morning, voting on amendments that were sure to fail. That doesn’t sit well with people whose votes you’re trying to woo into your corner.
One thing did change during the consideration of the Organizing Resolution, however – Leader McConnell agreed to change the number of days each side would have to make its case. In his original version of the Organizing Resolution, each side was given 24 hours, to be spread over two days. That would have led to two 12-hour days, with the Senate opening at 1 PM and closing at 1 AM. And that seemed a bit much, so the Leader backed off and agreed to allow each side to present its case over up to 24 hours, to be spread over three days.
In addition, McConnell further amended the Organizing Resolution to allow the House’s evidence to be used in the Senate trial without need for a further vote, but he left the president’s defense team the ability to challenge individual pieces of evidence.
Liberal television talking heads insisted that McConnell had been upbraided during the party caucus luncheon, that multiple GOP senators had chastised him for his original schedule, and had “forced” him to compromise. I’m not aware of any evidence to support their conjecture. I think it’s much more likely McConnell opened with a deliberately hard line just so he could back off and make it look like he was willing to compromise. He ended up getting what he wanted – a tight time frame for the presentation of the evidence and the opening of the president’s defense.
By keeping the presentation of the House’s case to just three days, that allowed the president’s defense team to have at least one day in which it could mount a defense before the Sunday talk shows. That’s key to messaging, and that round clearly went to Leader McConnell.
So Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were controlled by the House Democrats, who used their time to present their case against President Trump. They spent most of the first two days, Wednesday and Thursday, arguing that he had abused his office by asking the Ukrainian president for a favor. But they were caught between a rock and a hard p[lace, arguing two things that contradicted each other – on the one hand, they were arguing that their case was “overwhelming,” that the evidence against the president was clear and compelling, while on the other hand, they were still arguing that they needed more witnesses and documents to be able to make their case properly. That fundamental conflict was never resolved.
Late on Friday evening, as he was making his summary argument, Congressman Schiff stepped on it, when he cited a CBS News report that quoted an ally of the president saying that Trump had made clear to GOP senators that if any voted against him on impeachment, they would find their “head on a pike.” There were gasps throughout the chamber, and GOP senators reacted strongly negatively – Sen. Collins shook her head and said out loud, “That’s not true. That’s not true.” So did others. Schiff recognized he had just overstepped his bounds and tried to recover, but the damage was done. Sen. Murkowski, one of the Democrats’ key targets for a vote on witnesses, said later, “That was when he lost me.”
THIS WEEK ON THE SENATE FLOOR:
The Senate will come back into session on Monday at 1 PM and will continue with the impeachment trial against President Trump.
We anticipate that the President’s defense team will use up most or all of Monday’s session with its continued defense of the president. They may finish Monday, or even Tuesday, without using up all their allotted time.
Following the resting of the president’s defense, the Senate will then spend 16 hours over two days asking questions.
At that point, the Senate will likely entertain other motions – and the Democrats intend to offer motions to hear particular witnesses and subpoena particular documents. If four Republican senators agree on any one of those motions, subpoenas will be issued.
Keep in mind, any subpoena that goes to the White House demanding the production of a White House official to give testimony or a White House document likely will be met with an assertion of executive privilege by the White House – and that would have to be settled in court. That could take months. And that’s not a happy prospect for the GOP majority in the Senate.
Now, let me suggest you pay special attention to a particular phenomenon of interest during this question period:
We all know, from having watched countless lawyer shows on television, that a smart lawyer never asks a question in court that he doesn’t already know the answer to. And we all know, from having watched countless politicians in front of the cameras at debates or press conferences over the years, that a politician only answers questions that move his ball forward, and deflects questions that do not.
So, if you’re a Republican senator and you want to make a point, do you ask a challenging question of one of the House managers? No. The House manager will rise to answer the question, and then ignore it, and then use the time given to answer the question to continue making a point that he or she wants to make, regardless of the question that was asked.
Similarly, if you’re a Democrat senator and you want to make a point, do you ask a challenging question of a member of the president’s defense team? No, for the same reason – the lawyer defending the president would simply rise to answer the question, ignore it, and then use the time given to answer the question to continue driving home a point he wants to make.
So how is the question time going to be used? Don’t be surprised if you see Republican senators asking softball questions of the president’s defense team, and don’t be surprised if you see Democrat senators asking softball questions of the House managers.
A Democrat senator might well ask, “Chairman Schiff, would you elaborate further on why you think the president is the worst president we’ve ever had?” And a Republican senator might ask, “Mr. Cipollone, could you explain more fully the history of executive privilege?”
After the time for questions is used up, the Senate will consider other motions – including the motions to subpoena witnesses and documents. If the 45 Democrats and two Independents all hold together (and that’s not guaranteed, as Sen. Joe Manchin of WV may choose to break with his colleagues on this front), they would need four Republicans to vote with them. Democrats believe Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney are in play. They also think they may be able to woo Lamar Alexander, Cory Gardner, Martha McSally, and maybe even Rob Portman.
As of Sunday afternoon, I was fairly confident that the way the trial has played out so far, there was not a lot of appetite in the Senate GOP caucus for extending the trial any further than is necessary. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see motions for witnesses defeated, and the trial ended with an acquittal by the end of the week.
One of the reasons I was confident the motions for additional witnesses would be defeated is because of what Sen. Rand Paul said last week and what Sen. Josh Hawley says he’s planning to do this week on that front. The two GOP senators have made clear that if some of their Republicans colleagues vote to subpoena additional witnesses on the Democrats’ list – like White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney or former National Security Adviser John Bolton – then there will also be votes to call Hunter Biden and the whistleblower. Hawley and Paul know that the moderate GOP senators who are considering voting with the Democrats for additional witnesses do not want to have to go on record voting on whether or not to subpoena Hunter Biden or the whistleblower, so their promise to introduce such motions is meant not to actually call the witnesses but to prevent the moderates from voting for additional witnesses in the first place.
But then Sunday night happened, and the world was upended. The New York Times published a report declaring that former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s draft book manuscript includes passages wherein Bolton claims that Trump told him in August that he “wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens …”
The Times says the Bolton account “was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books. Multiple people described Bolton’s account of the Ukraine affair.”
Shortly after the Times’ account was published, Bolton’s lawyer – Chuck Cooper, a well-known and long-time conservative – accused White House officials of leaking details of the manuscript, which he said had been sent to the White House on December 30. “It is clear, regrettably, from The New York Times article published today that the prepublication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those involved in reviewing the manuscript,” he said in a statement.
Adding a plot twist that would have been laughed out of Hollywood if it had been included in a draft screenplay, Breitbart reported last night that, “A source close to the Trump Administration informs Breitbart News that Army Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, a senior ethics lawyer for the National Security Council (NSC), is in charge of reviewing all publications by current and former NSC officials. The official added Yevgeny Vindman could have seen former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s draft manuscript after it was submitted for prepublication review at the end of December.” If that last name sounds familiar, it should – Yevgeny Vindman is the identical twin brother of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who also works on the NSC staff in the White House and who testified during the House impeachment hearings about his concerns over the president’s actions on Ukraine.
For his part, President Trump tweeted his response shortly after midnight last night: “I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens. In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book. With that being said, the transcripts of my calls with President Zelensky are all the proof that is needed, in addition to the fact that President Zelensky & the Foreign Minister of Ukraine said there was no pressure and no problems. Additionally, I met with President Zelensky at the United Nations (Democrats said I never met) and released the military aid to Ukraine without any conditions or investigations – and far ahead of schedule. I also allowed Ukraine to purchase Javelin anti-tank missiles. My Administration has done far more than the previous Administration.”
Democrats and the media, predictably, went nuts. The seven House managers immediately put out a statement citing the Bolton passages as proof of why he needed to testify as a witness in the Senate trial, and Minority Leader Schumer demanded again that Bolton testify.
The impeachment trial will resume at 1 PM today.
INVESTIGATING THE INVESTIGATORS:
On Thursday, a December filing with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was declassified and released to the public. In it, the Department of Justice concluded that two of the FISA warrants authorizing the surveillance of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page were “not valid.” The court order further revealed that the DOJ will also investigate the validity of the other two FISA warrants that were issued.
The two warrants deemed “not valid” were the third and fourth warrants issued against Page. Former FBI Director James Comey signed one, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed the other.
James E. Boasberg, the presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, set a January 28 deadline for the DOJ to explain what steps it will take to minimize the information gathered from the invalid Page surveillance.
JENNY BETH MARTIN/TEA PARTY PATRIOTS:
INVESTIGATING THE INVESTIGATORS: